The Golf, Volkswagen’s longest running model line up originally created in 1974 to replace the old air-cooled, rear-engine Beetle, and it’s the best selling model the company has ever made with more than 29 millions units built by 2012, over a span of 7 generations.
And being around for so long, the Golf came in many shapes and body types with many varieties of engines and transmissions; petrol, diesel, hybrid and full EV, and even there’s a one-off Golf GTI with a 6.0-litre W12 engine shoehorned inside, and just only recently the race-only Golf TCR and Golf GTI TCR were made available for privateer race teams to race in international and national champions that adopt the TCR regulations.
Now, the seventh generation has received its mid-life refresh updates outside and inside with new tech included as well. Recently launched in Malaysia, the Golf Mk7.5 comes in four variants: the base Golf Sportline, Golf R-Line, Golf GTI and Golf R.
The Volkswagen Golf TSI 280 R-Line is basically the base Golf model kitted out with many of the range topping items found in the upper trim levels. In the exciting Tumeric Yellow paintjob, the R-Line comes with Full LED headlamps with LED daytime running lamps, full LED tail lamps with dynamic turn indicators, and 17-inch ‘Singapore’ alloy wheels with 225/45 R17 tyres.
What sets the R-Line apart from the base model is that it comes with the complete R-Line body treatment which includes front and rear bumpers, radiator grille with chrome strip, ‘R-Line’ logos on the fenders and front grille, rear spoiler and twin trapezoidal exhaust trim (they’re fakes of course).
The parts that were redesigned to make this refresh a lot less generic are its newly designed front headlamps with its signature LED daytime running lamps which lines up nicely with the chrome element on the grille.
A standard feature on the GTI and R, the Golf R-Line too comes with the LED rear tail lamps which features dynamic turn indicators, which lights up sequentially from the inner to the outer side of the car.
Volkswagen cars have always been common sense cars; even the new Bugatti Chiron super sportscar isn’t exempted from the parent company’s requirements for day-to-day usability. That said the Golf should be the bastion of ease of use and practical to use everyday.
The interior design may not impress design aficionados with its mostly horizontal lines and predictably compartmentalised areas on the dashboard. The cabin is wide and spacious; there’s a generous amount of space between the door and the front seats with a comfortable distance between the front occupants, a wide adjustable centre armrest that also hides a deep centre cubby, stow away tray on the centre stack, deep wide door pockets all-round, and overhead sunglass compartment.
But with a generous cabin space, comes wide and comfortable seats. The R-Line comes with R-Line Vienna leather seats with lumbar support. Both the front seats are mechanically adjustable with height adjustment and lumbar support offering good levels of comfort and support to the occupants, which makes them suitable for long distance travelling.
The Golf R-Line can sit many drivers of many sizes, thanks to the tilt and telescopic steering wheel; drivers can fine-tune their driving position to where they can find themselves comfortably driving the car. Regardless of how high or low the driver seats, the ergonomics is pretty much spot on, where there are no obstructions within the driver’s line of sight, and small corner windows which eliminates blind spots in this area which is crucial when driving into tight spots.
Likewise, the rear occupants can expect adequate space in the second row with generous leg and headroom. The rear bench comes with ISOFIX anchorage guides which makes installing a compatible child seat easier and without much of a hassle. The Golf also comes with rear air vents that channels cool air from the front.
The rear bench seat fold 60:40 and comes with a load-through hatch that accommodates long items through the centre armrest, and if there isn’t anything long to lug about, the adults at the rear can rest their arms on and place drinks in the cupholders.
At the rear most, the boot compartment measures in at 380-litres by default and by folding them down flat frees the rear storage space up to 1,270-litres. Other features to take note of are front and rear reading lights, 12v sockets in the centre stack cubby and rear luggage compartment.
Being comprehensively equipped, the Golf R-Line comes loaded with the techy bits. The first thing a driver would notice is the 12.3-inch Active Info Display (AID), which replaces the traditional analogue dial clusters.
Featured in the Passat and Tiguan Highline models, AID provides a long list of current driving and vehicle information at the touch of a button. Drivers can switch up to six different interface configurations: Classic, which only displays the rev and speedometer; Speed & gear, displays the gear position and driving speed in digits; Consumption & range provides the average fuel consumption of the day and range before the petrol tank runs dry; Efficiency likewise provides average fuel consumption figure but with an eco gauge to better judge frugal driving habits.
Also new in the refreshed Golf R-Line is the new large 8-inch Composition Media infotainment system with USB, iPod/iPhone interface, SD card slot, Aux-In, and Bluetooth. There’s also App-Connect smartphone connectivity, which is compatible with MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Like in the pre-facelift model, the new 8-inch system also comes with the Think Blue Eco trainer, but also comes with newer additions such as driving mode selection and performance monitor which displays the engine output in Kw, turbocharger boost pressure, G meter and engine coolant temperature.
The 8-inch touchscreen also features additional options of the ‘Climatronic’ 2-zone automatic air conditioning system. The Golf R-Line also comes with Air Care Climatronic, which filters out dust, and pollen in the cabin while ensuring healthy humidity levels and helps windows from misting up.
Sound reproduction comes from eight speakers located around the cabin of the R-Line, which consists of two tweeters located on the A-pillars, two rear tweeters and four mid-range speakers mounted in the doors. Audio quality is pretty good and above average in comparison with many systems in this price range. You can go from pop to rock, soundtracks to orchestra, the sound system stays faithful with much clarity throughout. But the speakers would tend to clip at higher volumes.
Engine & Transmission
The second variant in the refresh Golf family is powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged direct injection TSI engine, producing an output of 147hp at 5,000 – 6,000 rpm, with a maximum torque output of 250Nm at 1,500 – 3,500 rpm and paired with the engine is the 7-speed DSG automatic transmission, which makes it possible for it to achieve a frugal fuel consumption figure of 4.4l/100km as tested.
The 1.4 TSI petrol engine is especially smooth even when being worked hard, and it is still muted at a cruise and far from raucous when accelerating. The six-speed DSG gearbox provides progressive and seamless drive to its front wheels, with each gearshift being smooth with adequate gear ratios complementing the engine’s output with a maximum cruising speed of 160km/h at 3,000 rpm in sixth.
Without any changes to its dimensions, the R-Line handles much like it’s expected to do; it is genuinely enjoyable to drive and does not intimidate. The steering is light but precise, which makes the car easy to place on the road with a small turning radius. When introduced to some corners, the Golf R-Line does not roll too much through corners with adequate grip from the Bridgestone Turanza T001 tyres.
With 17-inch wheels and reasonably tall tyres, the R-Line ride quality is pretty good. It rides with poise with a sense of isolation from the road beneath while potholes and crevices can still be felt albeit without much drama, yet each vibration are very much distant from the occupants inside. But one thing is for sure that it will take a lot of effort to completely unsettle the car. If you need more compliance, the R-Line can provide, albeit forgoing the sportier extras the higher range models have.
Performance wise, the R-Line offers the best of both worlds; it has adequate performance to keep its graceful and civilised nature intact, yet handles with much enthusiasm and feistiness. While having a comfy and isolative suspension doesn’t mean that it’s all Jell-O; there’s much compliance on uneven road surfaces and off camber corners, which keeps the tyres intact on less predictable roads, which allows braking stability on such corners with plenty of lateral stability.
Having driven this car hard during the Volkswagen Track Days 2018 at Sepang International Circuit’s southern loop during a cold and damp Friday night, the Golf R-Line is plenty entertaining to drive. Its agile, the chassis is rigid, and switching the traction control off, it doesn’t intrude as much but only when things have gone too far. This is also where the XDS comes into play; by slowing down the inner wheels in relation to the cornering direction, this allows the Golf TSI to tuck into corners better while providing handling agility.
Having a 1.4-litre engine is not a bad thing either because driving a slow car fast is more fun than driving a fast car fast, which many I spoke to had agreed on that as well. The only gripe is had is the reactiveness of the 7-Speed DSG box, which shifts gears down within a safe engine speed threshold to prevent the engine from over revving. Its alright for daily use, but not great for the track. But other than that, with plenty of abuse on track, the gearbox still stayed strong.
The Golf R-Line has the looks and drivability to match, while offering driver and occupants practicality and the 1.4 TSI engine is punchy and frugal is great for the everyday commute, especially for motorists who frequently drive in urban areas.
Theoretically, you can drive up to a theoretical distance of 680km from its 50-litre fuel tank. And even with a heavy left foot, the engine management control unit adapts to different drivers and uses the least amount of fuel possible.
Volkswagen Golf 280 TSI R-Line
Price Msia: RM 160,608 (Without Insurance and with 0% GST)
Engine: 1.4-litre turbocharged direct-injection in-line four cylinder
Power: 147 hp @ 5,000 – 6,000 rpm
Torque: 250 Nm @ 1,500 – 3,500 rpm
Fuel Economy: 4.4 L/100km (Tested)
Transmission: 7-Speed Direct-Shift Gearbox